As of July 1, masks are no longer mandatory in most indoor settings across Edmonton.
Some residents feel optimistic about this, but others think it is still much too soon to be doing away with masks.
Rebecca Lippiatt says, “Given the rising COVID cases in Israel, the most vaccinated country in the world, and Yukon with a 72 per cent vaccination rate, I think [deactivating the mask bylaw] is a mistake and will lead to more cases, hospitalizations, and deaths in the fall.”
“It was too soon to repeal the bylaw, especially with everything opening up,” says Kat MacLeod. “Fully vaxxed, still wearing a mask.”
Leslie-Anne Chapman agrees. She says, “I’ll continue masking in enclosed spaces, and think it would be wonderful if in the future, people feeling ‘under the weather’ would be considerate enough to use [a mask]…so as not to spread germs.”
Other residents are feeling more optimistic. Naomi Johnson says, “I am looking forward to not having to wear [masks], but depending how crowded places are I may still wear one occasionally. I have been vaccinated, so [it’s] less concerning.” Johnson adds that she still wears a mask indoors for her job.
Martie Johnston feels similarly: “I’m fully vaccinated and with the numbers going down so well, I have no issues with them rescinding the mask order.” She says, “I’m not going to go crazy and see lots of people and have parties, though. I’m still going to be smart about things.”
Local businesses are also adapting to the change. Karen Mykietka, facility and office manager of Alberta Avenue Community League, says, “We’re leaving… the decision [to enforce masks] to be made by the different programs depending on their comfort level and the risk.” She notes that the Spark! Youth Camp running at the league opted to make masks a requirement, since many of the children aren’t eligible for the vaccine yet. “We always have masks and hand sanitizer available for our programs and events,” Mykietka adds, “and we certainly encourage other people who use the space to have that as well.”
Tracy Cameron, a bartender at Mona Lisa Pub, says she’s feeling good about the mask bylaw being deactivated. “Everybody has been complaining about [wearing masks] for so long,” she says. “I’m sick of hearing people complain. Everybody’s happier now. We’ve been doing the contact tracing for months here and we’ve never had a case. I feel pretty safe without using any masks at work.”
On their website, the City of Edmonton states, “Wearing a mask or face covering is a reasonable precaution but is not required of patrons.” They urge people to maintain two metres of distance between each other when possible, use hand sanitizer, cover sneezes, and stay home if they are experiencing COVID symptoms.
The Government of Alberta website asks Albertans to support those who choose to continue wearing masks. It also maintains that “municipalities and businesses are free to set masking requirements as they see fit.”
Masks are still mandatory on public transit, on rideshare vehicles such as Uber, and in Alberta Health Services spaces and continuing care facilities.